Saskatchewan Farmers Lead the World in Low-Emission Crop Production: STUDY

Saskatchwan crops some of the most sustainable in the world

Canadian farming families are playing a huge role in the sustainable advantage offered by our world-class agricultural products, according to a carbon life cycle analysis study commissioned by the Global Institute for Food Security (GIFS).

University of Saskatchewan (USask) researchers found that the province’s farmers produce some of the most sustainable crops in Canada and the world. The study examined the carbon footprint of five major Canadian field crops – canola, durum wheat, non-durum wheat, lentils, and field peas. Comparisons were made to other globally competitive producers, including France, Italy, Germany, Australia, and the United States.

The results showed that Canadian production, particularly in Saskatchewan and Western Canada, was the least greenhouse gas (GHG) intensive.

“These impressive results are driven by the widespread adoption in Saskatchewan of agricultural innovations and sustainable farming practices that have significantly reduced the amount of inputs and emissions needed to farm each acre of land,” said Dr. Steve Webb (PhD), Chief Executive Officer of GIFS via USask News.

“The sustainable practices include reduced tillage, the adoption of herbicide-tolerant canola, the variable-rate application of fertilizer, a robust crop rotation system, and the production of nitrogen-fixing pulse crops.”

USask, founded initially as an agricultural institution, has long been dedicated to sustainable crop development, processes, and education to underpin a healthy and prosperous agriculture and agri-food sector. This study is one of many that shows USask’s commitment to supporting Canadian farmers through innovative research and development for well over a century.

“USask has empowered Saskatchewan researchers and ag producers for over 100 years through new science, technology, and policies that sustainably feed the world. We are very pleased with the results of this study, and I know our faculty, students, and researchers will continue to lead and create innovative solutions for the environmental and agricultural challenges the future will bring,” said Baljit Singh, Vice-President of Research at USask.

Study Highlights

Results from the study outline just how sustainable Saskatchewan crop production is relative to other jurisdictions worldwide. Major highlights include:

> Saskatchewan canola production is 67% lower than the global weighted average (for one tonne of canola)

Saskatchewan field peas production is 95% lower than any other region included in the study

> Saskatchewan lentil production is 130% lower than all compared jurisdictions

> Canadian growers, led by Saskatchewan farmers, are also the most sustainable producers of non-durum wheat

Methodology

In tandem with the Food Systems PRISM Lab at the University of British Columbia, the study followed the established protocol for carbon life cycle measurement of food production. It utilized data on the carbon dioxide equivalent of various agricultural activities required to produce such crops, including:

  • seed, manure and fertilizer inputs
  • field activities
  • energy emissions
  • transportation
  • post-harvest work

Also included in the carbon life cycle analysis was data regarding the agricultural landscape to support soil-based carbon sequestration. Saskatchewan farmers had the least GHG-intensive profile for all crop types and regions studied when including soil carbon sequestration.

Sustainable Solutions Vary for Regions

Dr. Webb urged the importance of finding unique and sustainable solutions for differing regions across Canada.

“While these results are remarkable, there is always room for growth and to scale sustainable farming practices even further. However, it’s important to understand that one size does not fit all, and regenerative farming practices must always be suited to regions,” said Webb, via USask News.

“Our regulatory landscape should also recognize differences at the regional level. We hope that the insights gleaned from this study, which are a win for Canada, will inform science-based decisions at the national and international level for Canadian agriculture and the producers involved.”

Canadian Farmers are World-Class

Canada’s agricultural sector is no stranger to sustainable development. Our farmers have long been utilizing industry-leading methods to reduce environmental impacts on land, animals, and ecosystems through various means.

For example, did you know that since 1981, through the use of beneficial management practices by farmers, there has been a 10% reduction in net agricultural emissions in Canada? Or that between 1990 and 2019, Canadian dairy farmers have reduced their carbon footprint for milk production by 24% on a per-litre basis?

These are just a few of dozens of examples of emissions reductions in Canada’s agricultural sector.

With global food demand expected to grow rapidly alongside population through to 2050 and beyond, it only makes sense that these products come from the most sustainable producers – from jurisdictions like Saskatchewan, and Canada, with world-class protections for human rights and the environment.

The world needs more Canadian agriculture, don’t you agree?

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SOURCE:

1 - https://news.usask.ca/articles/research/2024/sask-farmers-produce-some-of-the-worlds-most-sustainable-crops-gifs-at-usask-study.php

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